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Torrent Pharmaceutical workers in India beaten and fired after joining union

27 May, 2019When Torrent Pharmaceutical workers in Himachal Pradesh became members of the Association of Chemical Workers Union in October 2018, management unleashed a series of vindictive actions aimed at union busting.

All 600 permanent workers at Torrent Pharmaceutical’s Baddi plant joined the Association of Chemical Workers Union – an affiliate of the central trade union, Indian National Trade Union Centre (INTUC) – and informed the management on 12 October 2018.  They sought recognition of the union and called for the collective bargaining process to begin.

Torrent management responded with a series of vindictive actions. The management compelled workers to sign a letter to resign from the union and victimized union office bearers and workers through unilateral transfers and suspensions.

On 14 February 2019, when workers gathered in front for the factory gate to raise the union flag and install a union signboard, they were brutally attacked by hired goons and about 20 workers who sustained injuries were hospitalized. The local police initially declined to register the workers’ complaint, and it was only after persistent efforts that a formal complaint was registered.

The next day, the company unjustly terminated 15 workers and suspended four others, including union office bearers. So far, the union has not received any response to the numerous letters sent to the management.  

Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said:

“It is shocking that Torrent Pharma workers face such a vindictive and violent response when they exercise the universally accepted core labour rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

“We strongly condemn the unfair labour practices of Torrent Pharmaceuticals. Torrent should reinstate all unjustly terminated and suspended workers, recognize the union and start collective bargaining negotiations.”

The plant, in Solan District in the state of Himachal Pradesh, employs 600 permanent workers and 150 contract workers. The Bombay-listed multinational operates in 50 countries.